Real Economy

To reassure myself completely, I visited my banker.   He welcomed me with his usual warmth.  “Your savings aren’t at risk at all,” he assured me in a firm voice, giving me a big pat on the back.  “Having lost 30% of their value since the 15th of September, your various assets add up to 69,990 euros net.  That’s exactly the sum guaranteed by the government to depositors.  You’re lucky!”

He was wearing an anti-pollution mask, in the style of Japanese tourists, and put one on my face as well, for precaution: “With all the toxic products that infiltrated into our portfolio, we never know. . . .”  His office seemed to me smaller than usual.  The furniture, too.  Even the pen that he was turning between his fingers seemed to have shrunk.  “It’s normal,” he explained to me, “The real economy is beginning to be affected.  Everything is reduced by 30%.”

While I was taking leave, he took back my mask: “Outside, you aren’t at risk at all.  It’s only raining.  I can lend you an umbrella, at an unbeatable rate.   Think.”

The original article “Economie réelle” appeared in Le Monde on 10 October 2008.  Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi.

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